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Box office better than it seems

Despite a steady drumbeat of dour diagnoses — spurred by this past weekend’s weak summer start — a closer look at the numbers shows the movie business has been surprisingly healthy so far this year. While fewer wide releases have bowed in 2005 — and none of them has been “The Passion of the Christ” — they are performing on average much better than the 2004 crop. Also, many think a lot of the talk about the shrinking audience is going to be difficult to square with next week’s expected monster opening for “Star Wars: Episode III — Revenge of the Sith.” “The sky isn’t falling,” said Warner Bros. distribution president Dan Fellman. “It’s important to look at where we are going.”

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